Kentucky Derby 2020 Radar: Silver State hits the trail fresh

October 03, 2019 11:28am

Whether Silver State turns out to be the next Gun Runner-like prospect for Winchell Thoroughbreds or, more than likely, something less, racing manager David Fiske will wait patiently.

“I just assume they’re all special until they show me they’re not,” he said in the days following a debut that has the son of Hard Spun, a $450,000 purchase also campaigned by Willis Horton Racing, on our 2020 Kentucky Derby Radar.

Last Friday at Churchill Downs, Silver State left himself plenty of work to do when off slowly in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight flight. Under Ricardo Santana Jr. — trainer Steve Asmussen’s first call rider — the colt steadily worked his way back into contention behind an opening half mile in 45.07 seconds.

Santana Jr. tipped Silver State out wide off the turn, four rivals still to catch, then drove down the stretch to corral pace-setting Relentless Dancer and dead heat for the win. Those two were 9 3/4 lengths clear of the rest in a final time of 1:16.44.

“He is a big, beautiful horse, and he moves very well,” Fiske said. “I was pleasantly pleased when he came back to the winner’s circle. He just glides over the surface, and that’s even after running as hard as he did.

“Maybe next time he could break better. We’ll go from there. But we’ve got some high hopes for him.”

Allowance conditions come into play for 2-year-olds at Keeneland’s fall meet, but Silver State could also go straight into Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) in his second start. That race pays out Kentucky Derby qualifying points on a 10-4-2-1 basis to the Top 4 finishers.

Fiske said just one more start is on the docket this year for Silver State, who will then point as a fresh horse to Fair Grounds’ 3-year-old stakes program comprised of the Lecomte (G3), Risen Star (G2) and Louisiana Derby (G2).

“We do think he’ll be better at two turns,” Fiske said. “I don’t think he’ll ever see 6 1/2 furlongs again.”

Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton most recently teamed up on a Derby contender with Combatant, who was 18th in the 2018 edition.


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About the Derby Radar

Back for the 2020 Kentucky Derby trail, Horse Racing Nation's Derby Radar seeks to identify promising maiden, allowance and even stakes winners who could target points-paying preps down the line. We'll cover the buzz horses, of course, then using a systematic approach based on past years' Derby contenders identify other talented colts moving up the ladder.

Did we miss one? Email editor Jonathan Lintner ( if you know of a horse that should be on the radar.

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